In the young century’s cool nursery,
In its checkered silence, I was born.
Sweet to me was not the voice of man,
But the wind’s voice was understood by me.
The burdocks and the nettles fed my soul,
But I loved the silver willow best of all.
And, grateful for my love, it lived
All its life with me, and with its weeping
Branches fanned my insomnia with dreams. But
– Surprisingly enough! – I have outlived
It. Now, a stump’s out there. Under these skies,
Under these skies of ours, are other
Willows, and their alien voices rise.
And I am silent… As though I’d lost a brother.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), 1940
– from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)
– translation by D. M. Thomas